Peter N. Peregrine

Peter N. Peregrine (born November 29, 1963) is an American anthropologist, registered professional archaeologist,[1] and academic.[2] He is well known for his staunch defense of science in anthropology,[3][4] and for his popular textbook Anthropology (with Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember).[5] Peregrine did dissertation research on the evolution of the Mississippian culture of North America, and then did fieldwork on Bronze Age cities in Syria. He is currently Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at Lawrence University and Research Associate of the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University.[6] From 2012 to 2018 he was an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.

Peter Neal Peregrine
Born (1963-11-29) November 29, 1963
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materPurdue University (PhD 1990)
Known forNorth American archaeology
quantitative analysis of cultural evolution
cross-cultural research
scientific anthropology
AwardsFellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Scientific career
FieldsAnthropology, archaeology
InstitutionsLawrence University, Wisconsin USA; Human Relations Area Files at Yale University
Academic advisorsRichard Blanton

Peregrine developed a comprehensive data set and methodology for conducting diachronic cross-cultural research. This work produced the Atlas of Cultural Evolution[7] and the Encyclopedia of Prehistory (with Melvin Ember),[8] and also formed the organizational structure for the Human Relations Area Files eHRAF Archaeology.[9] Peregrine has conducted archaeological fieldwork in North America, Syria,[10] and South America.[11] Much of his fieldwork has involved the use of geophysical techniques to identify buried archaeological deposits. In 2009 Peregrine started the Lawrence University Archaeological Survey, which focuses on using geophysical techniques to locate unmarked graves in early Wisconsin cemeteries.[12]

In 2011 Peregrine was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[13]

Contributions to North American archaeology

Peregrine has published extensively on the Mississippian culture and on archaeological method and theory.[14][15][16] Peregrine argued that Mississippian cultures should be seen as participants in a large system that integrated much of eastern North America in a single political economy. He initially employed world-systems theory to do this, arguing that large centers were cores of political and economic authority which were supported by peripheral regions though the exchange of objects used in rituals of social reproduction such as initiation and marriage.[17] The Mississippian cores themselves competitively manufactured and traded these objects, linking them into what Peregrine called a prestige-goods system. Polities vied for power over exchange, and rose and fell as their ability to control prestige-goods strengthened or waned. The response to Peregrine’s view was mixed, with some calling it “exaggerationalist” and others adopting it into their own work.[18]

In the mid-1990s Peregrine and colleagues Richard Blanton, Gary M. Feinman, and Steven Kowalewski developed “dual-processual” theory,[19] which Peregrine applied to Mississippian polities. Dual-processual theory posits that political leaders adopt strategies for implementing power ranging along a continuum from being highly exclusionary to highly inclusive. Exclusionary (or network) strategies are like those Peregrine argued were in place among Mississippian polities. Peregrine argued that inclusive (or corporate) ones were in place among some Ancestral Puebloan polities. While not without controversy, dual processual theory has come to be seen as a valuable tool for understanding both Mississippian and Ancestral Puebloan polities.[20]

More recently Peregrine and colleague Steven Lekson have argued that the Mississippian and Ancestral Puebloan worlds should be viewed as linked together, along with Early Postclassic Mesoamerica, in a continent-wide “oikoumene”.[21] They argue that only such a continental perspective can allow archaeologists to understand broad processes of coordinated change such as the emergence of urban-like communities in many parts of North America around 900 CE. Again, though not without controversy, Peregrine’s drive to promote a multi-regional perspective has been seen as useful for addressing some questions in North American archaeology.[22]

Contributions to cross-cultural studies

In addition to archaeology Peregrine has also made a number of contributions to cross-cultural studies. The focus of his work has been on developing archaeological correlates for various types of behavior, including warfare, postmarital residence, and social stratification.[23] Peregrine also developed new methodologies for conducting diachronic cross-cultural research using archaeological cases.[24][25] Peregrine is now using diachronic cross-cultural research to explore how ancient societies were able to successfully build resilience to climate-related disasters.[26] He argues that this work may help modern societies to create policies to enhance resilience to the increasing frequency of climate-related disasters caused by climate change.[27]

Personal life

Peregrine lives in Appleton, Wisconsin and is married with two daughters.[2]


  1. "Register of Professional Archaeologists".
  2. Who's Who in America (63 ed.). Berkeley Heights, NJ: Marquis Who’s Who. 2009.
  3. David Glenn (Nov 30, 2010). "Anthropologists Debate Whether 'Science' Is a Part of Their Mission". Chronicle of Higher Education.
  4. Nicholas Wade (December 9, 2010). "Anthropology a Science? Statement Deepens a Rift". =New York Times.
  5. Carol R. Ember; Melvin Ember; Peter N. Peregrine (2014-09-07). Anthropology (Fourteenth ed.). Boston. ISBN 9780205957187. OCLC 882738863.
  6. "Meet Our Team". Human Relations Area Files - Cultural information for education and research. 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  7. Peter N. Peregrine, Atlas of Cultural Evolution, World Cultures 14(1), 2003
  8. Ember, Melvin; Peregrine, Peter Neal, eds. (2001–2002). Encyclopedia of Prehistory. 9 Volumes. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. "eHRAF Archaeology". Human Relations Area Files.
  10. Zettler, Richard (1997). Subsistence and Settlement in a Marginal Environment: Tell es-Sweyhat, 1989-1995. Philadelphia: Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology. pp. 73–84.
  11. University, Lawrence (2016). "Geophysical Survey of Ventanillas, a Prehispanic Administrative Center in the Jequetepeque River Valley, Cajamarca District, Peru". Lux.
  12. University, Lawrence (2014). "Geophysical Survey of Wisconsin Burial Site OU-0122: Outagamie County Insane Asylum Cemetery". Lux.
  13. Science 23 December 2011:Vol. 334 no. 6063 pp. 1659–1663
  14. "WorldCat Identities:Peregrine, Peter N. (Peter Neal) 1963-". OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
  15. SSCI average 17 citations per year (
  16. Peregrine Peter N. (2016-04-30). Archaeological research : a brief introduction (2nd ed.). London. ISBN 9781629583433. OCLC 912045453.
  17. Peter N. Peregrine (1992). Mississippian Evolution: A World-Systems Perspective. Madison: Prehistory Press. ISBN 978-1881094005.
  18. King, Adam (2002). Etowah: The Political History of a Chiefdom Capitol. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 978-0817312244.
  19. Blanton, Richard E.; Feinman, Gary M.; Kowalewski, Stephen A.; Peregrine, Peter N. (1996). "A Dual-Processual Theory for the Evolution of Mesoamerican Civilization". Current Anthropology. 37 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1086/204471. JSTOR 2744152.
  20. Butler, Brian; Welch, Paul (2006). Leadership and Polity in Mississippian Societies. Carbondale: Center for Archaeological Investigations. ISBN 978-0-88104-090-6.
  21. Peter N. Peregrine; Steven Lekson (2012). "The North American Oikoumene". In Timothy Pauketat (ed.). Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 64–72. ISBN 978-0195380118.
  22. Pauketat, Timothy R. (2012). "Questioning the Past in North America". In Timothy Pauketat (ed.). Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 3–17. ISBN 978-0195380118.
  23. see, e.g., Melvin Ember et al. "Cross-cultural research as a Rosetta Stone for finding the original homelands of language groups," Cross-Cultural Research Volume 40, Number 1, pages 18-28, 2006.
  24. Peregrine, Peter N.; Ember, Carol R.; Ember, Melvin (2004). "Universal Patterns in Cultural Evolution: An Empirical Analysis Using Guttman Scaling". American Anthropologist. 106 (1): 145–149. doi:10.1525/aa.2004.106.1.145. JSTOR 3567449.
  25. Smith, Michael E. (2012). Comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies. Tucson: Cambridge University Press. pp. 4–20, 165–191.
  26. Peregrine, Peter N. (January 2018). "Social Resilience to Climate-Related Disasters in Ancient Societies: A Test of Two Hypotheses". Weather, Climate, and Society. 10 (1): 145–161. doi:10.1175/wcas-d-17-0052.1.
  27. Peregrine, Peter Neal (2017-06-05). "Political participation and long-term resilience in pre-Columbian societies". Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal. 26 (3): 314–329. doi:10.1108/dpm-01-2017-0013. ISSN 0965-3562.
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